Measles Outbreak & Isolation Warning

22.09.2023 Category: General Health Author: Lucy Mildren

In July this year, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a warning that, unless vaccination rates improve, London is at risk of a major measles outbreak.

Current MMR vaccine coverage is the lowest it has been in a decade, with about ten per cent of children not protected from measles by the time they start school. It is predicted that in some areas of the capital, this figure is as high as forty per cent. Young adults between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five are also particularly vulnerable. Referred to as the ‘Wakefield cohorts’ by UKHSA, this generation were exposed to misinformation published in the early 2000s and as a result, many were left unvaccinated. 

In a bid to mitigate risk, councils have written to households across the capital explaining the possibility of isolation requirements; Children who are identified as close contacts of a measles case, and who do not have an up-to-date vaccination record, may be required to self-isolate for up to twenty-one days. The NHS are therefore urging parents to check their children’s’ vaccination status. Records of their vaccines should be kept at their GP practice, or in their red book.

How many vaccines are needed?

Two doses of the MMR vaccine will provide lifetime immunity. In the UK, these are normally given to a child around their first birthday. The second is normally given at around the age of three and a half. If there is a risk of an outbreak, vaccines are sometimes given early. 

Should adults be worried?

Adults are also encouraged to check their vaccination status. In the first instance, in case of any doubt, you should call your GP for confirmation.  Alternatively, if you are unable to find your records, a simple blood test will be able to confirm if you are immune or not. If you were born before 1970, it is assumed you will be immune through natural infection with the disease.

Can adults receive the vaccine?

Yes. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, we would recommend a blood test to check your antibody level first. If we discover that you are not immune, you will require two vaccine doses, given a month apart. 

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